By KBB.com Editors
A cut above the generic four-door sedan, the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta borrows mechanical components from the upscale Audi division, provides an exceptionally strong safety rating and a list of standard and optional equipment rarely found in this class. With slightly less rear-seat legroom than the more expensive Passat, the Jetta still provides the kind of "big car" feel you won't find in many of its competitors. On the downside, the Jetta does not offer a V6 engine – although the sporty GLI model's turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant delivers the power of a V6 with the fuel economy of a frugal four. The really big news, however, is the availability of a 50-state compliant TDI clean diesel engine, which can achieve upwards of 40 miles per gallon in highway driving.
If you're looking for that "old-school" VW look and feel, the fifth-generation Jetta's styling doesn't convey the same sense of youthful enthusiasm as its predecessors. Although improving, VW's reliability and repair history still lag behind its Japanese competitors.
The TDI clean diesel engine is added to the option list, as is a new wagon variant (reviewed separately). New standard features on all Jetta models include electronic stability and traction control, front and rear floor mats and heated front seats, side mirrors and windshield washer nozzles.
Driving Impressions The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta provides good handling, a competent and quiet ride and some of the best seats for long distance driving we've experienced. While the 2.5-liter five cylinder doesn't...make the Jetta the fastest car in its class, it's now fast enough to nose its way past the pack when it has to. The five-cylinder is bit buzzy at times, and its flat torque curve does little to inspire daring passing maneuvers. At highway speeds the Jetta remains composed and stable, but if your favorite leg of any journey is the twisty one, the Jetta delivers ample cornering ability complemented by quick, smooth manual Tiptronic downshifts and a satisfying exhaust note.
Six-Speed Tiptronic Transmission
The newest VW transmission shifts quickly and smoothly in three distinct shift modes – regular and sport automatic modes, plus a manual mode.
Rear Seat Side-Impact Airbags
When combined with the standard side-curtain airbags, this option adds another level of security for rear-seat passengers.
While rear-seat passengers won't sit with their knees at their chins (a position well known to passengers of previous Jetta models), there is still not as much rear seat leg room as found in the similarly priced Mazda MAZDA6. To be fair, the Jetta competes with the likes of the Honda Civic and Mazda MAZDA3, which offer roughly the same interior dimensions. Fit and finish is first rate, as are overall ergonomics. A height-adjustable passenger seat with manual lumbar support, a rarity on so many vehicles, is standard on the Jetta, as are heated front seats. Volkswagen's familiar red and blue dash lighting still delights the eye, and at night every switch, knob or button seen during the day is backlit for your convenience. The 60/40 rear seats can be folded flat and, on SE, SEL and TDI trims, include a center armrest trunk pass through. Other cool features unique to the Jetta are power windows with pinch protection that can be raised or lowered when the key is turned and held in the door lock.Exterior
Ironically, the newest version of the best-selling European car in the U.S. features several styling elements seemingly imported from Japan. This model marks the largest Jetta to date, touting seven additional inches over the last generation. It also ranks high in content, offering such useful cold weather features as heated side mirrors and washer nozzles. Whether you find the less-playful styling more appealing may depend on whether you think of the Jetta as a fun beach cruiser or a high-value German sedan.
The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta comes with an AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD player, one-touch up/down power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, manual climate control, outside temperature display, heated front seats and washer nozzles, four-way adjustable steering column and eight-way adjustable cloth front seats with manual lumbar support and power recline (driver's seat only). Standard safety equipment includes electronic traction and stability control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), active head restraints and front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags.
Optional equipment on the Jetta varies by trim and includes leather or V-Tex leatherette seating, power-adjustable driver's and passenger's seats, in-dash AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible six-disc CD changer, iPod connector, rear seat side-impact airbags, a 115-volt outlet (SEL) and a trip computer, Additional options include a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission (standard on SEL), power sunroof, premium sound system, navigation, alloy wheels, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and 12-way adjustable front seats with driver's memory.
Volkswagen offers two engine choices for the Jetta: a 2.5-liter in-line five cylinder and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. The recently-improved 2.5-liter is good for 170 horsepower, which is greater than most of the cars in its class. The long throws and sloppy feel of the standard five-speed manual transmission, however, is a bit of a disappointment, especially coming from a company known for its enthusiast-oriented cars. Best stick with the Tiptronic automatic with this engine. Also available is the new 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel, which offers less horsepower but an amazing 236 pound-feet of torque, the power you need for rapid acceleration. The TDI also gets a vastly better six-speed manual gear box.
2.5-liter in-line 5
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 (manual), 20/29 (automatic)
2.0-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
140 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-2500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/41 (manual), 29/40 (automatic)
By leo on Saturday, August 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 97,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have had the car appraised at car max who gave every category they checked a good standing. The car has brand new tires with a transferrable warranty. I have had one other dealership trade in quote which was better than car max and I have a person interested in buying it. The car is in gret shape. I am selling due to a change in my life where I need a different car. I've loved this car and have been the only owner. i certainly will miss the great diesel mileage. One tank gets me from Nashville to Mobile."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By ctdude7 on Sunday, August 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, quality, insane fuel economy"
Cons: "no reason to buy a new car?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"By far, best car I have ever purchased. Only service has been oil, wipers and tires. Parents bought 1 year later because they loved mine so much. They also have never had a problem. Just change your oil and fuel filter regularly, and you will never see a check engine light. 50+ miles/gallon? Yep. Compliments from strangers on such a nice looking car while pumping diesel into it? Yep. Quite the conversation starter."
11 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Lacey on Saturday, July 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Styling, looks, amenities."
Cons: "premium fuel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Wonderful-looking car, and fun to drive. Super looks. At this point, though (86,000 miles and just out of warranty), strange things are going on, costing me over $2000 in repairs this summer."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By cim on Thursday, July 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "small, fun to drive, space inside,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The car is very difficult to work on yourself. I think that is why i've rated it so poorly. German cars are too difficult and expensive to work on. i took my car to walmart to get an oil change and they wouldnt even do it for me!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Chuck on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliability, great price, delivers as advertised"
Cons: "driving can be a bit rough with automatic shifting"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I needed a reliable car, peppy and with good gas mileage; I found them all in the Jetta TDI. Reliability: besides regular schedule maintenances and tire replacement, I have not fix or replace any thing in this car. I like the power that the TDI engin delivers, although, the automatic DSG transmission makes it feel like driving a standard, it is an advantage for saving brake usage. I never had a car that lasted 100k without brake service, automatic or standard. I commute long distance for work, I couldn't have done without it, my average gas mileage is in the low 40's, my best was 50 mpg."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Tony_V on Thursday, July 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great engine, Awesome Fuel economy, good handling"
Cons: "Radio and AC bad before 70K miles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Purchased my Jetta TDI in November 2009. Great car to drive. The only complaint I have about the cabin quality is noise. Road noise is not good and even the heat/AC system is loud on high. Maintenance every 40K miles is ~$1000. A point the salesman never mentioned. My problem is reliability. @ 67,000 miles I am on my second $1000 plus repair. First was an AC compressor @ about 60,000 miles. After the repair in December, I had no cold air in June. Had to recharge it myself. This time the radio went out (@67,000 miles). It's just dead. Radio's don't wear out. Swapping it out is no easy task. Even to order a new one you need the old one out of the car for the model number. I may not fix it, just take my lumps and trade it in."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful